Parents concerned about some of the questionable moral and spiritual principles imparted to their children within various school systems – especially public ones – now have a tool they can use to ensure that parental values are the ones that reign supreme in their children’s education.
The Hamilton-Wentworth Family Action Council, a pro-family activist organization in Hamilton, has drafted the Declaration of Spiritual Values, a document that can be placed into a child’s scholastic file and referred to by his or her educators for direction on teaching in areas that may touch on moral or spiritual matters.
Begun four years ago as the Declaration of Family Rights, it has since generated interest from points as far afield as Texas and is currently in use in 13 Ontario public school boards, from North Bay to Niagara Falls.
“It’s based on the Ontario College of Teachers standards of practice and ethics,” said Jim Enos, vice-president of the HWFAC and one of the figures instrumental in the development of the document. “It helps to ease tensions.”
Enos added that the document is based on the principle that a human being is made up of three domains – body, mind and spirit. “School boards are good at recognizing the body and mind; they don’t seem to have an inkling of the spiritual. That’s why we’re there,” he said.
An example of a situation in which the document can be useful is in the case of a Hamilton couple, who recently found their elementary school children slated to take part in a program that studies or celebrates the Mexican “Day of the Dead.” This program was to include the use of altars with food offerings.
Lawyer Geoff Cauchi composed the first draft of the document, which was then edited and revised according to input from representatives in the educational and pro-family spheres.
The document works by having parents first visit their children’s teachers, presenting them with a cover letter and advising them that they’d like to “partner” with the teachers in their children’s education. Parents then follow up with a more in-depth visit in a couple of weeks’ time to more fully discuss the contents of the document.
Those contents mainly outline the specific areas teachers are not to touch on when teaching or administering activities involving participating children. These may include: the impartation of moral relativism, the occult and environmental worship; the depiction of homosexual, bi-sexual, trans-gendered and other perverse lifestyles as normal and/or acceptable; teaching about, or dispensing, birth control and condoms; and the acceptance of abortion, infanticide or euthanasia.
The document includes a proviso for ensuring that parents remain paramount in matters of non-emergency medical treatment of their children. It also has explanatory notes and a “talking points” page.
Most parents, said Enos, check off all the points and even add a few more of their own. “If (educators) are going to touch on these things, they have to do it in such a way as to connect positively with the learning experience of the child,” he said, adding that the clauses dealing with homosexuality lead to the most of whatever friction there is with the educational establishment on the document.
The Hamilton School Board has accepted the document and places it into a student’s file. Enos and the HWFAC are hopeful that use of the document will snowball, since – as one principal put it – the use of the document by even 10 parents within a school can significantly change the way educators perform their functions.
On another positive note, even teachers are welcoming use of the document, because it makes clear for them how they should stickhandle through some of the more controversial parts of curriculums. Muslims in Toronto, meanwhile, have taken the document and modified it for use under their criteria.
“We’ve had a very good response,” said Enos, adding that exact numbers are hard to come by because only a fraction of parents using the document have bothered to register it with the HWFAC, as requested. (The HWFAC suggests a $5 donation for registration). The popular Freedom Village Christian radio program has promoted use of the document, and partly because of that, hits to the HWFAC’s website have shot up from about 100 hits a month to 9,000.
Enos said he and the HWFAC would be happy to assist anyone who would like more information on the document, or to put it into use in a family. His group can even make a personal presentation to a gathering or church, if desired. And parents in provinces other than Ontario can adapt the document for use in their locations.
“We want to see people respond,” he emphasized.
For more information, and to print off a copy of the Declaration of Spiritual Values, access the HWFAC’s website at www.hamiltonfamilyaction.org.